April 02, 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017, marks the one year anniversary of detention in Iran of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.  The 38-year-old mother was arrested during a family visit to Iran last year.  She is currently being held at Evin prison in Tehran on unspecified security violation charges.

To publicize the anniversary and create a psychological boost for the project manager at Reuters Thomson Foundation, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard, is asking all those interested to join a two-week campaign that will be launched on Sunday at a London park. The day will coincide with Sizdah Bedar, marking the end of Persian New Year festivities.

“Throughout our campaign to raise awareness of Nazanin’s case and free her, we have not talked about negative ideas. What we want to do is to keep the hope alive,” Ratcliffe told Kayhan London from his London home.

“We are starting a two-week campaign from Sunday until the Easter weekend with a simple idea. We are asking people, ‘What would you do if you had only one day of freedom?’ ”

Ratcliffe said with support from family, friends, and neighbors, he has already collected a number of such thoughts and will tie them with yellow ribbons to a “One Day Tree” at the Fortune Green Park in London’s West Hampstead.

“We will also be tying with ribbons some of the hopes and dreams of Nazanin and other women political prisoners in Evin prison,” Ratcliffe said in a press release issued to mark the anniversary of his wife’s imprisonment.

“We are asking people to tie yellow ribbons on trees near them in support of Nazanin, along with ideas of freedom, across the country and beyond,” the press release added. Interested parties can also send pictures and posts comments on Free Nazanin Facebook page.

Ratcliffe said he plans to collect the ideas and the pictures and turn them into a book that he hopes would inspire his wife and other women  imprisoned in Iran. He calls it “a recipe book of days to try, and ways to rediscover life and all its maybes when freedom finally is returned.”

“The anniversary is a point to mark that this suffering will not define us. One day Nazanin’s and [their daughter] Gabriella’s ordeal will be over, one day our lives will begin again. And what defines us is what comes after – how we recover the maybes in life, how with the support of others we learn again to get beyond the anger, to be ready to walk cheerfully again,” said Ratcliffe. Their daughter was with her mother and has been staying in Iran with her grandparents.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ordeal started when she went to Iran last year to visit family. Ratcliffe said his wife had been to Iran on many occasions before and had no reason to believe her life was in danger.

“In the beginning, there were stories about her being part of a group trying to overthrow the regime. None of that is true. She was not involved in anything political,” Ratcliffe said.

First arrested by Kerman Revolutionary Guards, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained for months, including solitary confinement.  Last September, a Revolutionary Court sentenced her to five years in prison on unspecified security violation charges.  An appeals court upheld the sentence in January 2017.

Ratcliffe said he is confident his wife is innocent, and that she would not serve her full sentence.

“I don’t work on the basis of five years. I work on blocks of six months. I was working for [her release on] Christmas but that didn’t work. Now, I work in terms of summer,” he said.